Ezine Issue #006 – Perk Up Your People Pictures

Worth a Thousand Words, Issue #006 — Perk Up Your People Pictures
October 20, 2010
This month, the focus is on people! Special guest author, Larry Monczka has contributed an inspirational article on ways to “perk up your people portfolio” with some great tips that photographers of all experience levels can use. This month’s “cool link” is to some extraordinary people pictures: the images are made to look like flowers, but if you look closely, you’ll see they are comprised of people. We also have a feature article discussing what it takes to go from someone who takes snapshots to someone who makes photographs. What’s the difference? And of course, we have your creativity exercise and photo tip of the month. What more could you ask for? Enjoy!

Snapper to Photographer: What’s the Difference?

When you look at a picture, you can mentally categorize it as “just a snapshot,” or as a photograph. But what’s the difference? You know it when you see it, but can you define it? How can you go from someone who takes snapshots to someone who makes photographs?
There is no single, definitive answer to this question. The language I just used, “taking a snapshot” versus “making a photograph,” gives us some hint. The photographer does more than take what he finds. He actually creates an image. What does that mean?

I believe that a significant part of the answer lies in how the photographer sees. Instead of just seeing his subject, be it a leaf, a building, or a person, the photographer sees all the elements in the image, including the background, as a unified whole. He eliminates distractions so that each element contributes to the story of the image. The photographer “creates” the image by finding a composition and camera settings that provide visual balance, cause objects in the scene to become leading lines or counterpoints to the main subject, and keep the background simple and de-cluttered.

The bottom line is that transitioning from “snapper” to photographer means being aware of the role of every element in the photograph, including the background, and how it contributes to the story being told by the image. It means learning to see the image as a whole.

Creativity Exercise

Since we’re all about people this month, the challenge is, of course, to shoot people! But think out of the box. The goal is to take pictures of people who are NOT looking at the camera. If you have more than one person in the shot, try having them look at each other. You can also catch a person doing an activity, like reading a book, or raking leaves. The challenge is to make the shot spontaneous, without giving up good composition and a clutter-free background.

Once you’ve created a few people pictures, why not submit one to this month’s photo challenge. The topic is – you guessed it! – people.

Something Every Photographer Needs to Know: Tip of the Month

Everyone Has a “Good Side”

Studies have shown that people find symmetrical faces more attractive than asymmetrical ones. As a photographer, you can play tricks with the camera to make asymmetrical faces look more symmetrical, thereby increasing the apparent attractiveness of your subject.

When you’re taking a portrait, consider the features of your subject’s face when deciding where to place your camera. For example, people often have one eye that is larger, or that opens wider than the other. In order to make their eyes look balanced, shoot them so that the smaller eye is closer to the camera. That way the eyes will appear to be the same size in the image.

Also, consider your subject’s nose. Many people have a crooked or curved nose. Shooting from one side of their face will accentuate the curve, while shooting from the other side will seem to straighten it out. If your subject has multiple asymmetries to their features, you may only be able to compensate for the most significant one.

Learn more about taking and lighting portraits according to the unique characteristics of an individual’s face on the Ultimate Photo Tips website:

Too Cool Not to Share!

Visual Art by the Human Body

Wow! That’s all I can say. This site has some beautiful images of flowers and plants. But wait! If you look closely, you’ll see that they’re actually comprised of images of many people. It’s fascinating, and most impressive. Be inspired!

What’s New this Month at Ultimate Photo Tips

Perk Up Your People Portfolio

Larry Monczka, our special guest writer, offers some creative ideas to perk up your portrait photography technique. He covers everything from auras to zooming to help you take more creative people pictures. His tips are useful for photographers of all experience levels.

Two Minute Photo Tips

Ultimate Photo Tips has launched a new podcast series! Check in for some photo tips presented as two minute audio podcasts. Topics so far include family portrait ideas, bracketing, and mirror lockup.

Photo Challenges

In keeping with this month’s theme, the topic of October’s photo challenge is “People.” Life is all about the people in it, and our relationships with them. This month’s challenge is dedicated to the people in your life: family, friends, even strangers whom you meet, and who compel you to lift your lens to capture a connection. Let’s see the people in your life! Check out what images other people are submitting, and vote for your favorite:

Happy shooting from Ultimate Photo Tips!